Marriage and Family Therapy
The Department of Marriage and Family Therapy is no longer accepting applications to the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy or Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy Program.
The mission of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy is to produce clinician-scholars who provide quality clinical services in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy. Specific to this mission, the Marriage and Family Therapy programs work to educate culturally sensitive and socially just Marriage and Family Therapy clinician-scholars prepared to meet the needs of diverse populations in South Texas and nationally.
Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy
The master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy is a 54-hour program of study that includes an intensive 12-month internship. Students are able to meet the requirements for 500 direct client contact hours and receive live supervision by AAMFT approved clinical supervisors at the Family Life Center, which offers counseling services for the public, and at local community agencies.
Information is provided here for accreditation purposes and for those already enrolled in the program. This program is not currently accepting applications.
Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy Program
Marriage and Family Therapy has been designated as one of the five core mental health disciplines by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The St. Mary’s University M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy is accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). The Veterans Administration now posts jobs specifically for family therapists graduating from accredited programs.
Graduates of this program meet all academic requirements for licensing by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT). In addition, students may take additional courses (beyond the 54-hour program) in order to qualify their program of study to meet the license requirements for the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (LPC). Students can also increase their knowledge of play therapy by taking additional courses beyond their 54-hour program.
This degree can be completed in two years for full-time student and three years for part-time students.
Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy Program
The mission of the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) is to produce advanced clinician-scholars who provide leadership in clinical practice, marriage and family therapy instruction and training, supervision, research, and clinical administration, or any combination of these professional activities in the field of marriage and family therapy. Specific to this mission, the MFT doctoral program educates culturally sensitive and socially just MFT clinician-scholars who can educate other therapists and meet the needs of diverse populations in multidisciplinary settings across South Texas and nationally. The MFT doctoral program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. The 80 credit hour program is structured for full-time study of about 4 to 5 years, with the final year including a 12-month internship and the student’s dissertation research.
The doctoral internship provides the opportunity to gain clinical experience in multidisciplinary settings. The internship includes at least 500 client contact hours with 100 hours of supervision by faculty and advanced clinicians. Students see clients in our counseling clinic and in an approved community site that assists in family therapy training. Students receive individual and group supervision of their clinical practice using direct observation, videotape or audiotape review, and case consultation.
About the Program
The academic requirements for licensure as a professional counselor in the State of Texas and for Clinical Membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy can be met by completion of the appropriate program. Students desiring licensure should ask the graduate program director to design their degree plan to ensure that they meet the academic requirements for licensure.
The field of counseling is concerned with helping individuals and people in organizations, schools, and groups gain their optimal level of personal, social, and vocational functioning.
Prior to graduation, students are expected to:
- Understand the principles of effective counseling and the processes of bringing about positive change within the counseling setting.
- Understand theories, skills, techniques, and philosophical foundations of clinical counseling.
- Understand the essential elements of the counseling profession and related human services professions and the distinctive contributions of each in meeting the needs of the various client populations.
- Demonstrate the counseling competencies necessary to work in a professional capacity with a broad range of client populations and client problems.
- Understand the characteristics of various social, cultural, and ethnic groups and the impact these characteristics have on the counselor and the counseling profession.
- Understand the responsibilities inherent in the roles and functions of the professional counselor and the social, legal, and moral obligations created by the professional counseling relationship.
- Demonstrate the ability to work effectively with human services professionals from a variety of human service disciplines (psychology, psychiatry, social work, pastoral counseling, etc.)
- Demonstrate the skills required for effective client evaluation and assessment, treatment planning, implementation of appropriate counseling strategies and techniques, and follow-up.
The goals/objectives for the doctoral program in counseling build on the goals established for the entry level program. Goals for the doctoral program in counseling include all of the goals for the masters program, plus the following:
- Demonstrate competence with design of experimental and non-experimental research and the collection and analysis of data (through formal instruction and actual research activities).
- Develop academic and psychological potential by working closely with faculty in teaching, research, and scholarly efforts. The faculty will have assisted the student in developing a synthesis of personal philosophical beliefs and values within the disciplines of teaching, research, and counseling.
- Conduct inquiry into a question of personal/professional significance which will have an impact upon the larger human services community.
- Demonstrate the formulation of a personal theoretical and philosophical position or model as derived from formal and informal learning experiences and applied work.
- Understand the historical development of counseling as a profession, and the various philosophical and theoretical positions, social forces, and traditions which have shaped the profession.
Program Requirements and Student Expectations
Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) master’s program is dedicated to educating therapists to provide direct, systemically-oriented clinical services to individuals, couples, and families. The program design flows from a competency-based educational philosophy, with the goal of supporting students’ development of clinical competence and theoretical knowledge essential to obtaining licensure as a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT).
All coursework and program experiences are intended to foster student development and contribute to the following student learning outcomes upon (SLOs) program completion:
Knowledge of Historical Evolution of Marriage and Family Therapy
- Demonstrate knowledge of the history and ongoing development of the MFT discipline, within regional, national, and international contexts.
- Demonstrate familiarity with selected traditional and contemporary MFT models, including knowledge of key individuals, unique terminology, theoretical constructs, therapist’s role, and process goals. Demonstrate the ability to work clinically using selected models with individuals, couples, and families.
Sensitivity to Contextual Issues
- Utilize knowledge to clients’ and therapists’ social locations (i.e., culture, economic, family circumstances, family status) to positively contribute to therapeutic processes and outcomes. Articulate critiques of selected MFT models’ positions.
- Articulate critique of MFT models based on knowledge of human and family life course development; recognize the differential impacts of individual and family life cycle transitions within a family
Intentionality in Treatment Planning and Execution, and Ethical Conduct
- Demonstrate the ability to facilitate the therapeutic process from intake through systemic assessment, treatment planning, management of therapeutic process, evaluation of treatment outcomes and termination using a clinically appropriate MFT clinical model(s) for the presenting individual, couple, or family client system.
- Demonstrate awareness of and ability to facilitate the development of a positive therapeutic alliance in order to enhance clinical outcomes with all family members in all modalities of therapy.
- Demonstrate an awareness of one’s professional strengths and limitations. Demonstrate an ability to seek and utilize supervision, peer consultation, and involvement of other professionals to enhance treatment outcomes.
- Demonstrate an ability to evaluate one’s professional conduct in relation to MFT ethical guidelines (AAMFT Code of Ethics and Texas law). Demonstrate an ability to recognize ethical dilemmas that may arise in practice settings and articulate potential strategies for determining an appropriate response.
Identity as Marriage and Family Therapy Scientist-Practitioner
- Demonstrate an ability to utilize empirical research and published literature from MFT and related fields to enhance therapeutic services.
- Demonstrate one’s professional identity as a Marriage and Family Therapist through membership in local, state, and national professional MFT organizations. Demonstrate a willingness to pursue licensure as a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Student Learning Outcomes
Professional counselors work as clinicians in public and private schools, community and mental health agencies, alcohol and drug abuse programs, family counseling centers, child and adolescent programs, social service agencies, or in private practice.
Marriage and family therapists are employed in social agencies, churches and counseling offices. Many have entered private practice. Some are using their skills in careers such as nursing, teaching, ministry, personnel management or social work. Others have created new positions for themselves in areas which previously were without a marriage and family therapist. Since the field of marriage and family therapy is relatively new, career opportunities are still developing.
Teaching is another option available to those who receive graduate degrees. Most college and university positions are restricted to those with doctoral degrees.
Graduates of the Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program pursue many avenues as scientist-practitioners. Our alumni are employed in a variety of clinical settings, including private practices, play therapy centers, and as clinic administrators. In addition to clinical settings, our alumni work in academic settings such as serving as faculty, instructors, and associate professors. Alumni have published books, peer-reviewed journal articles, and regional grants.
As part of the accreditation process, the Marriage and Family Therapy master’s and doctoral program are required to collect data from their alumni, called an Alumni Feedback Survey. Once data are collected and aggregated, the Marriage and Family Therapy faculty use the results to identify program limitations and areas of strength. In order to facilitate the data collection process and provide adequate anonymity to provide honest feedback, the alumni feedback survey can be taken online and will require no more than 10 minutes of your time. Please contact Carolyn Tubbs, Ph.D., Marriage and Family Therapy Program Director, for the URL link to the survey.
If you are a graduate of St. Mary’s Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program, you may update your information in our directory here.
About Marriage and Family Therapy Alumni
At Candidacy, the Department affirms your clinical potential and declares that you are a candidate for the degree. A student must have completed Candidacy before beginning Internship. There are several components to the Candidacy step:
- Completion of 12 graduate credits with a GPA of 3.0 or better
- Marriage and Family Therapy: CN6370, CN6371, CN7374, CN7371 and CN7372
- Maintained B average in your graduate work
- Regular admission status (those admitted will have to complete a Change of Status application)
- Submitted application for Candidacy
- GRE or MAT scores are on file in the Graduate Office
Determination of Candidacy
- The faculty reviews the academic performance of the applicant. If all criteria have been met, the faculty proceeds with the clinical review. If academic criteria have not been met, the faculty recommends that candidacy be denied.
- If academic performance is satisfactory, the faculty evaluates the clinical potential of the applicant by considering data from all sources, including the Graduate Battery and the Student Fitness Evaluation Forms. The faculty may also consider supporting statements and recommendations from professional counselors student colleagues or other informed persons. Strengths and weaknesses are identified and discussed with the applicant.
- If, in the clinical judgment of the faculty, the applicant’s weaknesses or problems would prevent his/her rendering the desired counseling or therapeutic care to a client, the faculty will recommend that the Graduate Council deny candidacy. If, in the clinical judgment of the faculty, the applicant could remedy the weaknesses or problems, the faculty may recommend that the Graduate Council approve candidacy effective upon the remediation of the weaknesses or problems as judged by the faculty. If, in the clinical judgment of the faculty, the applicant possesses the potential for rendering the desired counseling or therapeutic care to a client, the faculty will recommend that the Graduate Council approve candidacy.
- The Graduate Council approves or disapproves requests for candidacy.
AAMFT (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy) Code of Ethics (July, 2001):
- Professional Competence and Integrity
- Marriage and family therapists seek appropriate professional assistance for their personal problems or conflicts that may impair work performance or clinical judgment.
- Responsibility to Students and Supervisees
- Marriage and family therapists do not permit students or supervisees to perform or hold themselves out as competent to perform professional services beyond their training, level of experience, and competence.
While a certain number of hours are required for graduation, one of the major areas of emphasis is professional competence. Mere accumulation of credit hours does not entitle a student to receive a graduate degree. Students are required to demonstrate a breadth of knowledge in the counseling field as well as depth in specific areas with the ability to integrate what has been learned.Comprehensive examinations are offered three times a year during the fall, spring and summer semesters. A mandatory pre-comp orientation is scheduled at the beginning of each semester. To be eligible to take the MFT exam the student must:
- Be maintaining matriculation or be enrolled in their last semester of course work;
- Not be on probation or suspension;
- Have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher;
- Have completed all prerequisites;
Comprehensive Review The MFT Master of Arts program requires students to submit a Comprehensive Review Portfolio in lieu of a comprehensive examination. Graduation from the program is contingent on satisfactory evaluation of the Comprehensive Review Portfolio along with completion of required clinical contact hours. The Comprehensive Review, in combination with the internship process, serves as a summative evaluation of students’ demonstration of clinical competence and all Student Learning Outcomes.
Required products for the MFT Theory and Practice Portfolio at Comprehensive Review are:
- Clinical Video Demonstration and Position paper (see below for details)
- Internship Summary Report Form containing summary of direct client contact, team co-therapy and supervision completed to date
- Supervisor Report and Self-Report Competency Evaluation Forms (CEIs) from CN7380, CN7381 and subsequent completed semesters of MFT internship (if applicable)
- Documentation of current AAMFT Student Membership
- Master of Arts Annual Review Form — Year Two
- MFT Student Satisfaction Survey
Clinical Video Demonstration and Position Paper
The Clinical Video Demonstration and Position Paper is an opportunity for students to describe and demonstrate their personal approaches to clinical practice. The paper should be no more than 20 pages and written in accordance with current APA Publication Manual standards (currently sixth edition). The paper should clearly describe , in a broad manner, how the student approaches therapy, and specifically what this looks like with two selected clients. A video demonstration should then complement the written description of the student’s approach to therapy. In the Position Paper, students should specifically speak to the following points in order to demonstrate the outcomes evaluated at Comprehensive Review:
- Discuss in depth the model(s) of therapy they follow in their clinical work, recognizing the historical context of the model(s) within the MFT field
- Articulate the theory of change that underlies their clinical work, consistent with the model(s) they report following, and how their role as a therapist is shaped by this theoretical foundation
- Describe how the therapist’s and client’s racial, cultural and socioeconomic contexts are conceptualized by the therapist within the therapeutic process and how one attends to these contextual factors to facilitate a positive therapeutic alliance and promote positive therapeutic outcomes
- Describe at least one example during the internship where one was faced with an ethical dilemma and the specific process used to resolve this dilemma (beyond simply consulting with a supervisor)
- Describe how published social science literature, both theoretical and empirical, informs their work with diverse clinical populations
- Describe at least two cases (at least one relational, i.e., couple or family) from the students’ Family Life Center caseload to demonstrate the therapeutic approach outlined in the paper and provide edited video clips of these cases. A large component of the evaluation of this portfolio element is the extent to which students’ written description of their approach to therapy is consistent with the video demonstrations and case descriptions provided.
Evaluation of Comprehensive Portfolio
Satisfactory: Satisfactory evaluation by the Portfolio Review Committee is necessary for students to be endorsed by the program for graduation. Documentation of the satisfactory evaluation is forwarded to the Graduate Council for approval. Upon completion of all academic and clinical program requirements, the student is approved for graduation.
Unsatisfactory: A student who received an unsatisfactory evaluation by the Portfolio review Committee at Comprehensive Review must promptly schedule a meeting with the MFT Program Director to gather information necessary to develop a Remediation Plan. Details of a Remediation Plan will be developed based on the specific deficiency areas identified by the Portfolio Review Committee, and may include additional coursework and/or additional supervised clinical experience. The Remediation Plan will include a timeline for re-submission of a complete, revised Comprehensive Review Portfolio.For many, the primary reason for a thesis is the research and writing experience prior to entry into a doctoral program. The thesis is a cumulative experience which provides a record for student achievement in the program. This record may be consulted for reference and program evaluation.
The student who wishes to write a thesis obtains approval from the Program Director. The student confers with the Program Director concerning the appointment of a supervising professor and other committee members.
Research involving human subjects must be conducted in accordance with University policy. See the manual for Policies and Procedures for Research Involving Human Subjects. A thesis based upon human subjects’ research which was not conducted in accordance with university policy will not be approved.
The student must submit two copies of the thesis to the Graduate Dean in accordance with “Instructions for Master’s Theses,” July 19, 1993 or latest edition, free of punctuation, spelling, and other grammatical errors by the deadline established for graduation. The thesis grade and degree will not be approved until this requirement is satisfied. The student must matriculate each semester by registering for thesis extension until the thesis is approved.
The Thesis Supervisor directs the research design, data gathering, literature search, and writing of the thesis. The supervising professor will not approve the thesis until it is free of research and grammatical errors and meets the Graduate School standards specified in “Instructions for Master’s Theses.”
The Thesis Supervisor and a minimum of two other faculty members comprise the thesis committee. The committee members assist the Supervising Professor with suggestions concerning research design, data collection, literature search, and editing of the manuscript. Students must satisfactorily complete the thesis prior to graduation.
Comprehensive Exam and Thesis
After orientation to the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, students should complete a degree plan. The Marriage and Family Therapy Program Director serves as program adviser for Marriage and Family Therapy students. Students may use the suggested schedules. If a student has specific needs for a custom degree plan, they can make an appointment with their program advisor. Degree plans serve several purposes. First, they enable the department to make course projections for semester schedules. Second, they facilitate in student progress toward the degree, and third, they are used by the student in registration each semester. Students who have a degree plan on file can register for the courses on the degree plan by returning a completed registration authorization to the department secretary. Students who need to make changes from their degree plan can make an appointment with their Graduate Advisor to revise their degree plan.Changes to the degree plan must be forwarded to the Program Director. It is required that these are kept up to date.
Program of Study
Graduates of the Marriage and Family Therapy program meet all academic requirements for licensing by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT). In addition, students may take two electives that qualify their program of study to meet the licensure requirements for the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (LPC). This is a 48 credit hour program of study which includes an intensive 12 month internship which includes 500 client contact hours. Marriage and family therapists are employed in social service agencies, churches, and counseling offices. Some are using their skills in careers such as nursing, teaching, ministry, personnel management or social work. Since the field of Marriage and Family Therapy is relatively new, career opportunities are still developing.
|Department Courses||Credit Hours|
|CN 7333 Mental Health and Psychopathology||3|
|CN 7377 Human Sexuality||3|
|CN 6361 Crisis Counseling||3|
|MFT Specialization Courses||Credit Hours|
|CN 6370 Foundations of Marriage and Family Therapy||3|
|CN 6371 Foundations of Marriage and Family Therapy II||3|
|CN 7370 Marital Therapy||3|
|CN 7371 Strategies of Family Therapy||3|
|CN 7374 Professional Issues in MFT||3|
|CN 7375 Child Development & Play Therapy||3|
|CN 7373 Marriage and Family Life Development||3|
|CN 7384 Crisis Counseling||3|
|CN 7385 MFT Outcome Research||3|
|CN 7287 Relationship Education Workshop||2|
|CN 8375 Working with Latino Families||3|
|Clinical Courses||Credit Hours|
|CN 7372 Clinical Practicum in MFT||3|
|CN 7380 MFT Internship I||3|
|CN 7381 MFT Internship II||3|
|CN 7382 MFT Internship III||3|
|CN 6283A MFT Seminar – POTT||4|
Total program requirements: 54 hours
Note: Students writing a thesis, CN 7399 Thesis Direction, may take it as a 3-hour elective credit.
Suggested Schedule of Courses
Each specialization has suggested schedules for full-time enrollment, based on Fall, Spring, or Summer admission. If you need to adapt the schedules to your personal needs, please see your program adviser.
|Fall – Year 1 (9)||Spring – Year 1 (9)||Summer – Year 1 (8)|
|CN 6370 Foundations I||CN 6371 Foundations II||CN 7371 Strategies|
|CN 7372 Clinical Practicum in MFT||CN 7374 Professional Issues||CN 7370 Marital Therapy|
|CN 7373 Marriage and Family Life Development||CN 7375 Child Development and Play Therapy||CN 7287 Relationship Education Workshop|
|Plus any undergraduate prerequisites||Apply for internship||Apply for candidacy|
|Fall – Year 2 (11)||Spring – Year 2 (11)||Summer – Year 2 (6)|
|CN 7385 MFT Outcome Research||CN 7333 Mental Health and Psychopathology||CN 7377 Human Sexuality|
|CN 8375 Working with Latino Families||CN 7384 Crisis Counseling||CN 7382 MFT Internship III|
|CN 7380 MFT Internship I||CN 6283A MFT Seminar – POTT||CN 6283A MFT Seminar – POTT|
|Submit LMFT exam application||Take LMFT exam||Sign blue card for graduation|
|Fall – Year 3|
|CN 71/72/73.83 MFT Internship (if needed)|
Note: When enrolling for courses, master’s students should register for “A” classes. The “P” sections are for doctoral students.
Students graduating from our Marriage and Family Therapy programs are eligible for professional licensure by the Texas State Board of Examiners for Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT).Students are expected to become actively involved in the professional organizations most closely associated with their interests and program of study.
Counseling students are encouraged to join the American Counseling Association (ACA). This organization acts as an advocate for special interests of their members. It is in the students’ best interest that their professional organizations be strong, purposeful, and effective in order to advocate for members, the profession, and public interests.
Students will also very likely purchase their professional liability insurance coverage through their student memberships in ACA (actually, ACA provides master’s students with liability insurance at no cost). Faculty members encourage students to become active, contributing members within their professional organizations.
COAMFTE Student Achievement Criteria Data for St. Mary’s University – Accredited: June 6, 1995Minimum Program Length*: 2 Years. Advertised Program Length*: 2 Years.
Maximum Time to Complete Program*: 5+ Years.
All students are full-time students.
*Minimum length of time is the shortest time possible that a student could complete the program (i.e., a student doubled up on coursework one semester and was able to graduate early). Advertised length of time is how long the program is designed to complete as written. Maximum length of time is the maximum allowable time in which a student could finish the program (i.e., if a student needed to take time off due to illness, family responsibilities, etc.).
**Programs are only required to provide data on the past 10 years/cohort or since the program was initial accredited, whichever is shorter
***This is defined as the percentage of graduates from the cohort year listed that are employed within 3 years of their graduation utilizing skills learned in the COAMFTE accredited program. Masters and Doctoral programs are required to provide this information. Post-Degree programs are encouraged to share this with the public. The numbers reflect data collected from alumni surveys. Not all alumni reply to surveys.
****Master programs are required to provide this information. Doctoral and Post-Degree programs are encouraged to share this with the public. For Master’s programs only, COAMFTE has established a benchmark of 70% pass rate for each cohort.
|Year students entered program**||Number of students in program||Graduation rate (minimum time)||Graduation rate (advertised time)||Graduation rate (maximum time)||Job placement rate***||National exam pass rate****|
|**Programs are only required to provide data on the past 10 years/cohort or since the program was initial accredited, whichever is shorter.***This is defined as the percentage of graduates from the cohort year listed that are employed within 3 years of their graduation utilizing skills learned in the COAMFTE accredited program. Masters and Doctoral programs are required to provide this information. Post-Degree programs are encouraged to share this with the public. The numbers reflect data collected from alumni surveys. Not all alumni reply to surveys.**** Master programs are required to provide this information. Doctoral and Post-Degree programs are encouraged to share this with the public. For Master’s programs only, COAMFTE has established a benchmark of 70% pass rate for each cohort.|
|Ethnicity||Number of Students||Number of Faculty||Number of Supervisors|
|American Indian or Alaska Native||0||0||0|
|Asian or Pacific Islander||3||0||0|
Master’s Program Achievement Data
Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family
Information is provided here for accreditation purposes and for those already enrolled in the program. This program is not currently accepting applications.
|Cohort Year Students Entered Program||# of students in program||Graduation rate in advertised time (%)*||Job Placement Rate (%)**|
|2016-2017||No Students||No Students||No Students|
|2017-2018||No Students||No Students||No Students|
|2018-2019||No Students||No Students||No Students|
|2019-2020||No Students||No Students||No Students|
|2020-2021||No Students||No Students||No Students|
|2021-2022||No Students||No Students||No Students|
IP=In Process: Students from the cohort listed have yet to graduate from the cohort year listed.
Programs are only required to provide data on the past 7 years/cohort or since the program was initially accredited, whichever is shorter.
*Graduation Rate is the program’s Advertised Length of Completion which is how long the program is designed to complete as written.
**Job Placement Rate is the percentage of graduates from the cohort year that are employed utilizing skills learned in the COAMFTE accredited program.